It seems the latest round of pay negotiations for teachers in Victoria has reached an impasse, with the Victorian Government entrenched in its view that performance pay should be introduced as part of the package, with the teacher’s union doggedly opposed to this.

Put your hand up if you think I deserve more pay? Photo: Herald Sun

Apparently, the Australian Education Union feels teachers operate in a uniquely collegiate environment, and any moves to introduce individual performance-based incentives would wreck the staffroom vibe. As union branch president Mary Bluett said, “‘You get the best outcome when you’ve got teachers working together and sharing best practice. Performance pay would undermine that and students would be the losers.’‘

Too right. I mean, can you imagine if performance-based pay was introduced into any other professional environment that relies heavily on collaboration? Like …lawyers or surgeons or accountants or….oh, hang on.

That’s right. Performance-based pay is a reality in almost every workplace in Australia. From the cleaner to the CEO, nearly every position involves some sort of individual assessment that helps to evaluate the remuneration level and bonus paid to that worker. So why on earth do teachers think they should be immune?

There are some people, of course, who say performance-based pay itself is not the issue, but rather how “performance” is defined in an education context. Is it NAPLAN scores, “customer feedback” (i.e. from students/parents) or how well Mikey does in his school report compared to last year?

The truth is, it’s probably a mix of everything. Teachers shouldn’t be held accountable solely for an individual’s academic aptitude, but surely there’s a way of measuring “performance” as a well-rounded concept, just as it is in most workplaces today.

If collaboration and knowledge-sharing with peers in the school context is valued, incorporate it as a heavily weighted performance metric and get on with it. Many workplaces incorporate 360-degree feedback in annual reviews, which tracks the perceived performance of an individual from their co-worker, subordinate and manager, together with peers from other areas.

It can be a daunting picture, but it’s a heck of a lot more valid than relying on a myopic (and outdated) view that performance is judged solely by one’s manager, or by a single aspect of an individual’s work. 

Similarly, if the concern is that teachers in more ‘difficult’ schools would be disadvantaged, load their pay accordingly to create incentives for teachers to take on the challenge of tougher roles.

Teachers perform one of the most significant roles in any child or adolescent’s life. The impact of their work is immense and they are right to demand better pay from a government that promised them more.

Few of the bright sparks in my Year 12 class chose teaching as their vocation. As much as we like to think it’s a “calling”, for many, teaching is a profession like any other, where school leavers look up the salary range to help them decide if it’s a career choice they’re going to follow. If teachers had the potential to earn more, there is no doubt more capable school leavers would choose to become one.

But until then, while there are undoubtedly many shining stars in the teacher ranks, there are also some absolute duds, because teaching is no different to any other workplace.

Performance-based incentives, whether the union likes it or not, help to identify the poorer performers and reward those who do well. If the definition of “doing well” in an educational context needs debate, then let’s have that.

But for the union to continue to push for across-the-board, flat salary increases reeks of a paternalistic approach to education that has got us to where we are now – slipping further down the ladder in the OECD Program for International Student Assessment.

I welcome the day when good teachers in Australia receive the recognition and reverence they deserve. Their task is challenging; with an ever-increasing mix of cultures, socio-economic pressures and demands from sometimes aggressive parents expecting more and more from their child’s education provider.

Our vision should be for a future when teaching is regarded as a true profession of choice – not just a job that provides ‘tick the box’ annual wage increments that stop once you reach the top ceiling, which is arguably set too low to retain the best of the bunch in the classroom.

The path to getting there is obviously complex, but surely it’s time that the union started to think more laterally about how to solve the problem. Why not bring teachers in step with every other profession in Australia, where performance pay is a reality, and not necessarily a bad one?

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    • Gregg says:

      07:09am | 28/11/12

      Your heading is more than a peanut putdown for teachers as anybody who has been to school in the past half century or so will I imagine have in their memory some teachers they regarded as quite brilliant, others less so and some they might rather forget.

      As for comparisons with other professions and cleaners and CEOs you will find that payments will be for positions advertised and many will require experience of a particular level, a kind of seniority approach and level of professionalism inherit or otherwise one might more quickly be shown the door.

      There have always been seniority payments for teachers in most if not all education systems within Australia and then teachers also have the option of applying for more senior teaching positions same as the surgeon, cleaner or CEO.
      Attempting to put merit in there as well is fraught with danger for if you have classes of 25+, for starters there will always be different mixes of students and if classes are graded too from previous years academic record so as you end up with 25+ or even 50+ higher achievers as against 50 of a lower standard you could expect results to be likewise.

    • Macca says:

      07:28am | 28/11/12

      Gregg, the difference is that the Remuneration for teachers is based solely on seniority / years of service / experience, as opposed to other professions (lawyers, accountants, engineers, salespersons etc.)  which are based on skills, performance and behaviours.

      The current system of teaching simply breeds mediocrity dressed up as equality.

    • acotrel says:

      09:03am | 28/11/12

      ’ Remuneration for teachers is based solely on seniority / years of service / experience, as opposed to other professions (lawyers, accountants, engineers, salespersons etc.)  which are based on skills, performance and behaviours. ‘

      A better system would be to have a base salary component dependent on qualifications and experience, and an incentive percentage based on team performance.
      How can teachers mount a wage case and object to a performance aspect when many students still reach tertiary level functionally illiterate ?
      I am not critical of individual teachers,however they should be subject to peer group pressure to perform, and assisted by their peers in a self-managed work group.
      NAPLAN rates the schools on performance, the basis for calculation of salary incentives is already there.

    • subotic says:

      09:42am | 28/11/12

      Imagine if we paid people what they were actually worth?

      Be a lot of starving politicians, bank CEOs, and policemen methinks….

    • Austin 3:16 says:

      12:49pm | 28/11/12

      In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.
      Lee Iacocca

    • PJ says:

      02:09pm | 28/11/12

      I thought the Gillard Government model was to allow employers to pick cheap overseas workers, which the Government will happily sign in on a temporary visa.

      There are lots of agencies around Melbourne and Sydney that will show you the economic business case of ‘Overseas temporary worker over Australian citizen or Resident.’

      Had it twice personally. It’s compelling.

      Except for poor Aussie whose out on his ar$e.

    • Gregg says:

      03:20pm | 28/11/12

      The differences people are attempting to make are not so much as you would think and you only have to look at the first response to Macca’s post and even Macca’s post itself and you will see that just like engineers in any public service that there are seniority payments for a number of years and perhaps for engineers the seniority scale re numbers of years is longer.
      ” That pretty much sums me up at the moment. I’m on the top pay level for a classroom teacher in NSW. I’m pretty happy with the money that I earn but if I want to earn more, I have to take a position that will leave me with less face to face class room time. I’m assuming your partner is like me, not wanting to trade off not teaching for extra pay? “
      Outside of the public service you usually find that engineers and other professionals will need to be looking at applying for more senior positions that can also mean moving away from day to day engineering and into management type positions and obviously the scope for advancement and higher pay may be significantly larger but that is more a factor of industry differentials.

    • Macca says:

      07:19am | 28/11/12

      My Girlfriend is a primary school teacher. (We own an apartment in Sydney together and are quite comfortable). She did a little better than me at Highschool, she went into teaching, and I chose my own tertiary educated profession. She has nearly 5 years experience, and I 4, in our respected careers. Our take-home pay is pretty similar, although she still has the dreaded HECS debt to pay-off.

      As the education salary bands go up by experience, plus the annual EBA wage increases, she has received a 5 - 6% increase every year since she commenced employment. She knows this is soon to come to an end as any further increases in Grade will have to come with futher responsibilities (coordinator positions and such, as opposed to mere years in the job), however she’ll still receive the annual 3 - 4% EBA increases.

      As a first year primary school teacher, she also had a remuneration far more competitive than many graduate salaries. Only our few friends in Engineering favoured better, Law and Accounting had to earn their stripes a bit further.

      Of course, with 3 or 4 years experience, our Law and Accounting friends have shot past; they have been rewarded for their performance with promotions and increases. They take pride in their performance and celebrate their successes, not in a boastful way, but in the same way that a teacher looks back on the growth of their class with a level of self-satisfaction. The difference is that their performance at work is rewarded in a tangible manner, where as my girlfriend becomes disenchanted by the more senior or lazy teachers who receive the same pay packet and bottle of wine from the principle at the end of the year.

      Teaching is not unattractive due to the starting money; its competitive with other graduate remuneration packages. However the career potential, or opportunities to be rewarded for high performance, are limited. There is little incentive to go above and beyone, apart from pride of the Children’s success.

      That’s admirable, but it also creates a disincentive when you can take your talents elsewhere.

    • Loddlaen says:

      08:00am | 28/11/12

      That pretty much sums me up at the moment. I’m on the top pay level for a classroom teacher in NSW. I’m pretty happy with the money that I earn but if I want to earn more, I have to take a position that will leave me with less face to face class room time. I’m assuming your partner is like me, not wanting to trade off not teaching for extra pay?

    • George says:

      08:51am | 28/11/12

      What’s the hardest thing in primary school? Long division? My nieces barely know their times table, apparently they don’t drill it into you anymore?

      So don’t go above and beyond. As a teacher your duty is merely to provide sufficient content and direction, then it’s over to the kids and their parents.

      Teaching is paid less because it’s a lot easier than most of the jobs that pay more.

      The only people who deserve a pay rise are maths, physics, chemistry and english teachers teaching the high level senior stuff.

    • Ella says:

      09:05am | 28/11/12

      Same here…. I graduated from High school with an OP2 (the second highest high school graduation score in QLD) and went into teaching because it is something I am passionate about.

      I certainly didn’t do it for the money, which is, as you say, pretty good at the beginning but flattens out pretty quickly. Now I am at the top pay band my choice is to either remain in the classroom and stuck on my OK but not fantastic wage, or to move on to more senior positions out of the classroom, which I don’t want to do. For a career oriented and fairly goal driven person such as myself this is quite demotivating, as there is little I can now aspire to within my chosen profession.

      I work very hard in a fairly difficult public high school. Not everyone I work with puts in the same effort or makes the same contribution to the school or its students. Why shouldn’t I have the opportunity to be rewarded for the extra work do and improved outcomes I create for my students?

      Most of the teachers I talk to who are against performance based pay are the slackers and hangers on. The other teachers at my school who go above and beyond are all pretty much in agreement that there should be some system that enables high performing teachers to be financially rewarded for what they do.

      There are some teachers who arrive at 8:30 and leave at 3:00 and don’t lift a finger to do anything extra for the kids or the school, and others who are there for 10 or 11 hours a day, reviewing the school’s curriculum and assessment, coordinating extra-curricular activities, running extra study classes at lunch and after school, providing mentoring support for new teachers, etc. Yet they get paid the same (or even less if they have been working for fewer years than their lazy colleagues).

      The AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers provides a fairly comprehensive overview of how teacher quality can be properly assessed. It moves on from the simplistic NAPLAN score and assesses teacher performance across a whole variety of metrics that fall within three major domains of teaching.

      http://www.teacherstandards.aitsl.edu.au/Standards/Overview

    • Philosopher says:

      09:40am | 28/11/12

      better yet, George, let’s do away with Primary School altogether! It’s obviously a soft option, if not a complete waste of the child’s life. Either kids get fast-tracked to Uni via Kindy, or they are home-schooled. Stop the free-riding primary teachers!!!!

      PS are you a PhD education academic? Clearly you know your stuff!

    • Macca says:

      09:48am | 28/11/12

      @Loddlaen, yes, you are correct. She loves teaching and is reluctant to go for a (Sport or Grade) coordinators position as it would take time away from the classroom.

      @George, you’re a dill. The skills (patience, communication, creativity, agility) required to be a teacher are not easier than other occupations, they are simply different. The quality isn’t in the curriculum, but in the delivery. That’s how you differentiate between your good and poor performing teachers.

      @Ella, your story sums up for me why Teaching alienates students who perform well in their HSC and choose Engineering over becoming Maths teachers.

    • Lap says:

      09:51am | 28/11/12

      Shame your girlfriend didn’t teach you to use the spell check - it’s ‘pricipal’ not ‘principle’ Macca…

    • John says:

      11:22am | 28/11/12

      @Lap - the ironing is delicious

    • James1 says:

      12:03pm | 28/11/12

      “Shame your girlfriend didn’t teach you to use the spell check - it’s ‘pricipal’ not ‘principle’ Macca…”

      Aside from the typo that spell check would have picked up, were you yourself competent enough to use it, I would note that Macca spelled “principle” correctly (even if it is used incorrectly), so spell check would not have helped in any case.

    • Chris says:

      07:19am | 28/11/12

      Yeah, bring it in. So what? It might just attract better people to the profession. There should also be a remunerative system designed to keep good teachers in the classroom At the moment, the only prospect of advancement is to go into coordinator/head teacher positions where the money is better but the person spends less time in the classroom. Many Principals or Deputies do no teaching at all, or they might have one class on their timetable. I’d suggest paying an extra thousand bucks a year for every year they remain as ordinary classroom teachers.

    • anon says:

      07:25am | 28/11/12

      It’s a sad state. Unions insist on protecting the unmotivated underperforming teachers at the expense of those that are doing a fantastic job.

      Glad I’m not a teacher.

    • Damian says:

      07:27am | 28/11/12

      It is true that the pay for all teachers is very poor in Australia compared to some countries and it needs to be lifted for all teachers. It is also true there are some very poor teachers in Australian schools and they should not be employed, not given lees pay.

    • Achmed says:

      07:30am | 28/11/12

      There was a time when teachers wages were linked to those of a backbench MP.  A time that when “little johnny” was failing at school it was “little johnny’s” fault because he wasn’t paying attention in class, didn’t do homework or just simply wasn’t as smart as other kids.  But that was back in the days when people went into politics as a community service not a career, footballers and cricketers played for the hell of it and could seen doing things like having a beer and/or smoke during a break in the game and were either not paid or got paid the equivalent of their bus fare to the game.  Nurses, teachers etc got paid a more than them because of their importance to the community.
      Now we have parents who assault teachers and are blamed when “little johnny” isn’t the smartest kid in class, its the teachers fault when “little johnny” displays bad manners, swears and is just plain rude.  Society places a greater monetary value of its footballers/cricketers than teachers/nurses and the like.
      As a society we are becoming like the Romans, our sporting areas the collusseums and we can expect to go the same way because of it.
      Its the teachers fault if “little johnny” can’t get a job as the CEO of a compnay within a year of leaving school, after all he read about what the company does on the “net and now knows it all.

    • Belle says:

      08:32am | 28/11/12

      Top post, Achmed.

    • Modern Primitive says:

      09:25am | 28/11/12

      We aren’t becoming like the Romans, we haven’t changed since then.

      Also, comparing teachers to professional athletes? Ever heard of demand and supply?

      Lol.

    • Achmed says:

      01:34pm | 28/11/12

      Modern Primitive…Which do you think there is a greater demand for?  Who do you think provide greater value to society? Sportsmen/women who provide entertainment or teachers who shape and educate the young minds.
      As a nation we can move forward and progress economically etc without sportsmen/women….....how far do you think we would progress without education?

    • Modern Primitive says:

      02:18pm | 28/11/12

      Well, considering the differences in pay and the amount of teachers that come out of university each year, I would suggest there is a greater demand for top level athletes than there is for teachers…

      The rest of your comment is empty moralising.

    • George says:

      06:24pm | 28/11/12

      @MP - and your level of rationalising and reasoning provides proof that your education was a waste of good money your parents could have spent on something useful.

    • Alex says:

      07:44am | 28/11/12

      As a former lawyer I can tell you that the profession is anything but “collaborative”.  It is a cut throat, highly competitive industry which leaves many, many dead bodies along the side of the road to success.  I suspect the Accounting profession is similar.  Can’t speak for surgeons, but I think you are looking at the pointy end of the medical profession there and I think that, as they have already “made it”, they may not feel the need to step on each other’s head to climb further up the ranks.  Also, it’s the Health Profession so values and aims are different.  Don’t know.

      But let’s imagine you are correct in your comparisons to lawyers etc.  A competitive industry means there are winners and losers.  ie. you get a better lawyer if you pay more (theoretically).  Clients who cannot afford a good lawyer don’t get one.  Is this how you want the Education profession to operate as well?  Schools who cannot afford the better teachers get the second-rate ones?  Is that what you want?

    • Anubis says:

      09:02am | 28/11/12

      At least teachers don’t charge $50 to photocopy a single piece of paper that did not need photocopying in the first place

    • martinX says:

      09:46am | 28/11/12

      Anubis: Bazinga!

    • Black Dynamite says:

      02:53pm | 28/11/12

      Teachers get paid by the tax payer when they’re not even working for close to 25% of the year, they hardly have a leg to stand on.

      Black Dynamite

    • George says:

      07:57am | 28/11/12

      We have gone from measuring the kids performance to measuring the teachers.  If kids spend their days/nights playing video games instead of studying for their education the teacher will be “punished’ with a lower pay rate.
      Yes there are bad teaches, but I reckon there are a lot more “bad” parents who allow their kids to play those games instead of making them study.

    • Alex says:

      12:47pm | 28/11/12

      This comment is spot on.  Why are we so obsessed with blaming Teachers for our children’s (lack of) performance when, after all, it is what happens at home that matters the most?  Study after study has shown this to be the case.  It is the reason why, for example, schools in lower socio-economic areas regularly underperform compared to their wealthier counterparts.  I think Australians are (typically) looking for someone to blame for our societies failing rather than point the finger at themselves.

    • Terry says:

      08:09am | 28/11/12

      There is no research supporting validity of performance based pay, in fact the opposite is starting to emerge. Amazon, I think we can call them a successful company, pays no individual performance compensation of any kind. The reason; they believe it is detrimental to team work (Bezos).

    • Philip Crooks says:

      08:19am | 28/11/12

      I weep such, ignorance . You know nothing and just hurl out simplistic platitudes. I suggest you look at the research or read Larry Cuban and you will see that incentive pay simply does not work.
      No evidence just opinion based on what?

    • Philosopher says:

      09:02am | 28/11/12

      at least her bio admits she writes ‘loosely informed opinion pieces’. Which begs the question: why did she bother with this article?

    • AdamC says:

      08:19am | 28/11/12

      My views entirely. Well said.

      Simply granting all teachers a pay increase, irrespective of their performance will do nothing to improve standards. Education policies and spending should focus on attracting and rewarding high-performing teachers, getting rid of poor-performing teachers and giving teachers more time outside of the classroom. You could fund all this by a small rise in class sizes (the cutting of which have done nothing to improve educational outcomes.)

    • Loddlaen says:

      08:48am | 28/11/12

      Most teachers I work with have no issues with performance based pay but issues with how to measure performance effectively. Come visit my year 9 class. Some days a “successful” lesson with them is one where I don’t have a fight break out between 2 students. This is something that really can’t be measured by any conventional means.

      However if you think class size has no effect, try visiting a school in a low socio-economic area and see the difference in a class with 20 students and 30 students. Then try to imagine fitting 40 students in those same rooms.

    • Economist says:

      11:32am | 28/11/12

      Loddlaen is correct in asking the question how do you measure it?This article has not value added to the debate. There is a distinction between public and private work. Private work is measured primarily on money. As a writer, the OP would get paid by the number of pages edited, by the report edited. An economic consultant gets paid bonuses by the number of tenders won and completed. Lawyers money brought in. How are you going to measure teacher performance?

      I can envisage NAPLAN being a measure but it isn’t conducted in every school year. I can envisage teachers getting frustrated with students, putting pressure on students, or what happened at a local private school in our area that had a parent who was a doctor stand at the entrance of the school and hand out medical certificates as instructed by the principal.

      You could survey parents and students but again what sought of relationship are you going to establish here, not a productive one. How does a kindergarten student measure their teachers performance?

      How do you measure teacher performance for after school activities or promoting the school community? Doing plays, school camps and attending interstate competitions in their own time? How do you measure a PE teachers performance? Fitness tests?

      With 255,000 teachers how is the government going to find an extra $1.5b to fund performance pay, an average of around $5000 a teacher. How do you allocate it to teacher assistance. Does the education department decide which school deserve a larger pool of money, do principals decide who gets any and what share?

      One ridiculous suggestion I have is to keep a register of all students taught. That 1% of the income tax take (currently $150b a year) be allocated to teacher remuneration and paid to the teacher based on the proportion of past student income. This is a monetary measure. This is fair isn’t it?. After all the ultimate measure of performance is the productivity and earnings of students. A student you taught earns $10m you get a larger share. A student whose a bum gives you nothing. The only problem is who’s going to teach in schools which have a student pool of idiots. Administratively it’s a nightmare.

      People simply need to admit that such a scheme will come down to popularity and I’ll explain why in my next post.

    • Economist says:

      11:57am | 28/11/12

      To follow on. I previously worked in a government department that had performance based pay. For the most part it was nonsense in trying to come up with measurable performance measures. How do you measure a briefing? How do you measure the implementation of a government policy or program across various portfolios? It become nothing more than a popularity context and reduced workplace performance because it was simply managed poorly. Some would say typical public service wink

      Firstly, a pool of money was allocated to a team based on what the areas the Minister liked. The more media attention, the more a program or policy reflected well on a Minister, the larger the pool of money to that team. The result was people wanting to work in these areas at the expense of standard business or existing programs and policies.

      Secondly, people squirreled their work and didn’t share information, middle management took the credit for work they didn’t do.  It brought the psychopaths to the floor. People with 10 years knowledge of a program left taking their corporate knowledge with them, including where documents were filed. Staff turnover was significantly higher. As there were no means of directly measuring performance it become in many instances a popularity contest. The way it was managed was senior management had to sign off on the bonus, yet in most instances they didn’t even know the staff members name. Meetings were held for hours between senior managers as they negotiated with one another the bonuses to give teams and staff. Having sat in these meetings generally the deciding factor was do I know this person, if so they must do good work, and do I like this person.

      And finally most of all it was a huge waste of tax payer money with a large pool of money being put aside for bonuses on top of existing salary arrangements. Surprisingly even in the public service there are many staff who if asked would work through weekends or late nights to get a policy or program up and running, regardless of the remuneration involved, staff still stuck around and did their job. Bonuses had nothing to do with this except create an unproductive environment. It did not change a slack public servants mind. Except make them run to the union and waste a managers time with complaints as to why they didn’t get a bonus. Resulting in even more paperwork.

      I can envisage teachers having these types of problems.

    • AdamC says:

      12:14pm | 28/11/12

      Loddlaen, I base my views on class sizes on the conclusions of the study, ‘Long-Run Trends in School Productivity: Evidence From Australia’. (It is probably easier for you to Google it than for me to provide a link.) It is pretty sobering reading, especially for anyone inclined to believe that our vast investments in education have been worthwhile.

      Incidentally, I think one of the study’s authors is now a left wing Labor MP. All that rigour and intellect wouldn’t exactly be much help to him on the ALP backcbench!

      Economist, you cannot measure teacher performance from an office in Canberra, but you can assess it at the school level. Peer review, feedback from students, assessment by school leaders. It is not rocket science.

    • Philosopher says:

      12:53pm | 28/11/12

      AdamC, if measuring the ‘performance’ (or do you mean effectiveness?) of individual teachers is so simple, why do we as a country have such difficulty in measuring an entire school’s performance, given the multitude of variables including class size, gender mix, length of tenure of teachers, familiarity with subject, behaviour of the students, etc etc. Your pat little answer in fact fails to address Economist’s many points; although it makes a great sound bite!

    • Loddlaen says:

      01:23pm | 28/11/12

      @AdamC - Interesting reading. I found this line towards the end particularly interesting “For example, it is plausible that changing family structure, social norms, and entertainment media may have affected test scores.”
      These describe three of the biggest factors I have to overcome, especially with my low ability classes (I teach Maths). Personally, I think those 3 plus students not leaving for jobs/trades at the end of year 10 will have an increased impact on the bottom end of the spectrum of results. Bigger class sizes might not have much of an impact on the learning of students at the top of the ability level, but it will have a massive impact on those at the bottom.

    • Economist says:

      01:48pm | 28/11/12

      Here’s my genuine solution. Peer review is really the only appropriate option, including principals and other teacher. No performance pay, but base remuneration more to organisation (class plans), presentation, community spirit, rather than tenure. Make pay scales and promotion linked to these things. In the public service more broadly it is these things that promotion is based on. Even in your job AdamC in a public entity I imagine you are promoted on the quality of advice and work more broadly your ability to communicate and ability to manage. 

      But by far the biggest impact is simply more flexibility in managing under-performance. That is where public institutions and organisations fail. Their ability to genuinely retrain people or for the recalcitrant outright dismissal.

    • AdamC says:

      01:49pm | 28/11/12

      Philosopher, it is hard to measure teacher performance remotely because measuring teacher performance is somewhat subjective. That is why it is best done at the school level.

      As for centralised measurement, that seems fraught with insurmountable obstacles. What statistical metrics would you use to assess a teacher’s performance? Is, say, the median performance of students the key, or are you also concerned with equity of outcomes? Maybe it is more important that a teacher ensures all students meet a minimum benchmark?

      We haven’t even started on controlling for other factors, or how you can assess progress over time. (And whether that should be the main basis for assessment, rather results themselves.) I say, let’s call the whole thing off.

      Here is a radical idea. Give each kid a virtual voucher (with some extra value for really disadvantaged families) and allow their parents to choose the school they want to send their kid to. Trust the schools to run themsleves, hiring, firing and rewarding teachers as they want. If the do a crap job, parents can send their kid to the school down the road.

      That way, we can stop ODing on this destructive, pointless centralised control.

    • Philosopher says:

      02:00pm | 28/11/12

      AdamC, or were you just trolling wink

    • Anubis says:

      08:32am | 28/11/12

      Pay peanuts and get monkeys is a flawed analogy. As an example - Parliamentary pays were almost doubled over the past few years but we still have monkeys in there and, I have no doubt, the same cast of simians be on the hustings for the next entry test to the feeding troughs when the election comes around next year. It seems that in some industries no matter how much you pay you still get monkeys

    • Barrel of Monkeys says:

      09:13am | 28/11/12

      more peanuts = fatter monkeys.

    • Luke says:

      08:34am | 28/11/12

      I love it when commentators consider themselves to be experts in education because they once went to school.  All of the data on performance pay for teachers shows that it doesn’t raise student outcomes one iota and merely rewards those are willing to use Machiavellian tactics to gain advantages over their colleagues.

    • Slim says:

      08:41am | 28/11/12

      So Diana Elliot spins for Corporations while scribing loosely informed opinion pieces on the side as a freelancer. At least that much is honest. There are so many factual flaws in this opinion piece. How about doing some actual research into performance pay in educational environments, or even discuss the matter with parties actually involved, you know, like a journalist used to do. But I guess that’s not necessary for loosely informed opinion pieces. Stick to writing about things on which you have a clue.

    • Macca says:

      09:52am | 28/11/12

      Says there are so many flaws in the argument. Desribes none.
      Top post.

    • Bob says:

      09:32am | 28/11/12

      There’s one way to both lower education costs and improve teaching outcomes dramatically overnight.

      Make it legal for teachers to beat/tase the parents of underperforming students.

      If this was proposed, the unions would vote for it in a heartbeat, even if combined with a large pay decrease, and as it would be striking at the heart of the *real* problem with education, student performance would improve dramatically overnight.

    • Wendy says:

      09:37am | 28/11/12

      I agree with this article. Teachers should be held accountable for performance like all other professions. They shouldn’t just have their pay increase due to years of service. I also think the scores to get into teaching should be higher so that we do get the bright sparks. Maybe if the structure were changed people with a calling for teaching, including aptitude and enthusiasm would be more inclined to take it up as a profession. The current system seems to take those with low scores and they’re all lumped together getting pay rises according to years served and basically cannot be sacked.

    • Loddlaen says:

      01:02pm | 28/11/12

      “Teachers should be held accountable for performance like all other professions”

      But should they be held accountable for all the things that massively affect the students performance that they have no control over?
      For example, students who can’t focus in class because their parents don’t enforce a bedtime or routine, parents who commute and aren’t home with their kids much, kids coming to school dialled on energy drinks (this is a massive issue), etc. I’m happy to take the credit or blame for factors I *can* control, but these are only a small amount of the many factors that impact on the learning of my students.

    • Wendy says:

      01:57pm | 28/11/12

      @Loddlean. No, teachers can’t be responsible for parenting (or lack of), however, part of performance is how issues are dealt with… As far as I know, in most jobs in all professions you are reliant upon others to perform your role (clients/coworkers/suppliers etc not all easy to deal with or timely etc..). Part of performance is problem solving and finding solutions. I think teachers need more control over how they can respond to situations such as those in your post. For example, are you permitted to contact the parent/s of children who fall asleep in class or pumped up on v or do you just have to put up with it?

    • Loddlaen says:

      02:27pm | 28/11/12

      I can nearly always contact parents over issues (unless there is a good reason not to). What I find is there are often two types of parents who “create” issues.
      1) Those who honestly don’t give a crap what there kids do. Often you will get abused, hung up on or told that teachers are responsible for the behaviour while at school.
      2) Those that want to be a friend rather than a parent. This is when you hear all sort of excuses for the behaviour, or they believe 100% what their child says, etc.

      In most other professions, if people created those sorts of issues, they would be fired fairly quickly. In teaching there is little effective discipline you can do these days.Especially when parents ring and abuse for giving kids 10 mins detentions…

    • Wendy says:

      04:21pm | 28/11/12

      @ Loddlaen. It must be very difficult when parents take no responsibility. Maybe when a child enters school the parent/child/school enter into a contract outlining basic rights and responsibilities as well as potential consequences? Some parents obviously need to wake up and take responsibility. It seems like the whole system needs a massive overhaul. Education is very important and should be treated and respected as such…

    • Fred says:

      04:28pm | 28/11/12

      @Wendy.  Please, do you have any credentials, experience or training that would give you an informed opinion on this subject?  Or are you just one of the many, many Australian bystanders who somehow feel they know more than the teachers do, about the subject of teaching kids?  FFS.  Would you countenance some Joe off the street coming to your office and telling you how to do your job?  Do you often offer critique to your plumber when he comes to fix your sink?  Self diagnose, much?  You people should just stfu a bit. Honestly.

    • Wendy says:

      06:22pm | 28/11/12

      @ Fred…any suggestions or do they stop at “give us more money”?

    • Dennis Denuto says:

      09:44am | 28/11/12

      When this whole thing in Victoria started, I looked up what teachers earn (the State Government scale) and compared it to what lawyers earn (I’m a lawyer). Adjusting their pay for all the extra holidays they get (we only get 4 weeks in the real world) teachers are ahead by a mile. This holds true up to 6 to 7 years post admission.

      Ah well, now back to the next 6 minute unit…..

    • Elspeth says:

      05:34pm | 28/11/12

      A friend of mine (who loves maths) once did a similar break down for a mate who was a teacher.  By the time he had factored in the work she was doing outside the classroom (marking, drafting, reporting, ringing parents, staff meetings, extra curricular duties, planning, creating resources and doing mandated Professional Development) he worked out that that she was being paid a grand total of $12 an hour.  Less than her students earned working for Maccas.

      Not believing the stats he did it again (this time using more conservative estimates) and decided to work out how much time she was spending at work over the year.  Turns out that if she only worked for eight hours each day (standard work day) she would be working every day for 54 weeks a year (Yes, I do realise that’s more weeks than there is - that’s the point). 

      At that point he decided he didn’t want to teach. After he explained it to me I decided I didn’t want to either.  We both than made a pact we’d never pay out teaching working hours again.

      Also, as an aside, she recently told me that her school is desperate for a good Legal Studies Teacher, if you think it’s worth more than your current job maybe you should give it a try.

    • Reg Whiteman says:

      10:02am | 28/11/12

      This business of performance based pay for teachers has been around for decades. Back in about 1989 the then Federal Minister, John Dawkins, tried to bring in new ranks called “Advanced Skills Teachers” Grades 1, 2 and 3 to try to keep the best teachers in the classroom instead of climbing the promotions ladder out of it – or leaving teaching altogether.

      I used to be a teacher but after I reached the top classroom salary rung, there was nowhere to go. In those days there were about 700 High Schools in NSW - thus there were 700 Principal positions and 700 Deputy Positions and 700 Faculty Head positions - and all of them were held by someone - but there were 30,000 teachers. You had to wait for someone to die or retire before there was any movement in the system, any chance to progress.

      I taught English/History in a large Regional High School in NSW. In 1989, the Faculty Head had been in that position since 1964 and still had a good ten years to go before retirement. It was the same just about everywhere else in the State as well. Even though my faculty head was next to useless, you couldn’t challenge him for the job and no-one was ever going to sack him, so you just had to mark time - forever. He’d already blocked that hole for a quarter of a century and had won the job over a better teacher by virtue of having had 3 months seniority at the time.

      I left teaching at the end of 1989, got another job on about 60% of the pay to start with, was back to even with my teaching salary after about 6 months, earning more than the faculty head after a year and more than the Principal after three years.  And it just got better. Not only did I earn a lot more, but I also got to have an hour for lunch every day, choose my own annual leave time, never had to put up with insolent teenaged smart-arses, worked in an air-conditioned office, never had to do playground duty or bus duty or spend a weekend (unpaid of course) taking sports teams or excursions away; never had to put up with drunks and crazies on Parent Teacher night; never had to spend hours and hours at home marking essays, and actually looked forward to going to work each morning.

      A lot of the people I taught with back in the 70s and 80s reached that top salary rung and realised that that was it. There was nowhere to go, virtually no chance of promotion, and the rest of their working life would be doing exactly what they did on their first day and had done every day since – just an endless ocean of nothingness. Is it any wonder a lot of them just go through the motions, get through the day on anti-depressants, and dream of the day they can finally hand in their chalk and duster and not live their lives to the sound of a bell?

      Of course, teaching is also so ideologically driven and woe betides anyone who shows signs of political incorrectness. On top of that, everyone has been to school so everyone thinks they’re an expert on education, and they are always more than keen to tell you how the whole thing should be run and tell you how lucky you are to work from 9- 3 and get 12 weeks leave each year and how you’d never survive in a “real job”.

      So we’re back to performance based pay, yet again. And exactly how do you measure one teacher against another? What is the yardstick? What are the outcomes and performance indicators? It’s easy to do it for bricklayers and car salesmen and probably even accountants. But consider this: in 1989 I had 11E6 for English. There were 19 students in the class and not one of them was functionally literate; but I had to teach the “Board Course” for the HSC which included Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” and Shakespeare’s “Othello”. These kids had an average IQ of about 80 and couldn’t read and understand a comic book. Was my “performance” to be based on their “outcomes” in the HSC; their understanding of Hardy and Shakespeare?

      Anyone who says that it can be done is a fool who just doesn’t understand anything at all about teaching or the Public education system.

    • Jess says:

      01:25pm | 28/11/12

      I heard about theHSC being for every year 12 in NSW yesterday. That seems crazy to me so many people don’t want to go to uni and are better suited for trades and non-professional jobs and shouldn’t need that kind of testing.  Year 11 and 12 should be preparing for the future… those that want to go to uni do the HSC and such while those who wish to go to tafe/apprenticeships/ non professional career can start preparing for for it in years 11 and 12 without having those massive exams.
      Only about 1/2 the students in my year 12 class sat the exam to get a UAI. The rest were doing vocational courses in the things they wanted to begin a career in.
      And the HSC is the system they want to push nationally -_-

    • Reg Whiteman says:

      02:26pm | 28/11/12

      @Jess. That idea has been around since the 1920’s and was abolished in the early 1960’s. You see, over time it became apparent that the kids who opted for the trades training and non-professional skills almost all came from working class suburbs; while those who went for the academic training with a view to entering the professions came from the upper and middle class suburbs. In country towns with one High School, there was no choice and everyone did the trades courses.

      Thus the education system entrenched the class divisions in society. If you happened to be born in a country town, or a working class suburb, there was no possibility of University for you or social mobility for you - unless your parents could afford to send you to an academic boarding school. Needless to say, if you were the child of a rich farmer, then the Government subsidised your GPS education - but your parents had to be primary producers and own land - they couldn’t be merchants or clerks in the town.

      It all sound obvious but it’s not. There are all sorts of philosophical and social considerations. That Year 11 class I had shouldn’t have been at school - but there was about 20% youth unemployment at the time so school was a better place for them to fill in the time than hanging around the streets - even if they learned nothing and were an absolute burden to teach.

    • Philosopher says:

      03:50pm | 28/11/12

      Reg, sounds like you failed to include the book ‘To Sir With Love’ in your curriculum. Also, maybe it’s a good thing you are no longer teaching, if you loathed it so. Or have you eaten on the insane root, that holds reason prisoner?

    • Jess says:

      03:52pm | 28/11/12

      I’m saying that this was happening in my school (and All ACT public colleges), students chose their own subjects (maths and english compulsory for everyone but different levels Acredited if you didn’t want to go to uni and Tertiary if you did want to go to uni, maths, advanced maths and advanced maths extended for the tertiary students). 
      Also Schools seem to have better links with business for school based new apprenticeships and the like.
      However this is in Canberra where most parents are tertiary educated and schools have a fairly consistant socio-economic demographic.

    • Reg Whiteman says:

      06:35pm | 28/11/12

      @ Jess, that’s right. The ACT system can offer both paths through their college system. But it doesn’t happen in country towns in NSW, though it does a liitle in the cities. The ACT has a very different demographic that can’t be replicated elsewhere.

      @ Philosopher. I didn’t loathe teaching and I have many great memories. I often get invited back to that country town for re-unions of the classes I taught - though some of them are now , sadly, up to the 35th anniversary. I have been back numerous times for the funerals of ex-students and even been to a few weddings. What really makes me feel old is going back and meeting up with a girl I taught in Year 10 in 1975 and she introduces me to her grand-children!

      “To Sir with Love” was an entertaining book and movie. But here’s the question: What did he do with the next class coming though, and the next, and the next, and the next? Did he save them all, forever? Or did he walk away after just one year? Perhaps you should also read “The Blackboard Jungle” about Mr Dadier teaching at North Manual Trades High in New York; or maybe “My Brother Jack” where the Meredith brothers go through the Victoria system in the 1930s and graduate with the “Qualifying Certificate” that qualifies them for nothing. Or how about that great movie, “Class of ‘84”  or Barry Hines’ novel “Kes”. They’re a lot more realistic than “To Sir With Love”.

      The best education system in the world is the German “Dual System” but it just doesn’t translate to the Australian context. The English-speaking countries do not value education in the same way as the Germans and are not nearly as systematic. Have a look at the mish-mash and abortion that’s the US Public Education System and you can see why they are losing the battle. When education is devolved to elected School Boards who set the curriculum and hire and fire teachers and pay them as little as possible, you get a wholesale disaster. Like that school in Pennsylvania that was hi-jacked by fundamentalist Christians who banned the teaching of evolution in science and banned books like “The Catcher in the Rye” and anything by Shakespeare.

      I had similar experiences where parents objected to the teaching of the play “Equus” and the auto-biography “The treatment and the Cure”. I had one crazy father refuse to allow his son to read Kennealy’s “The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith” because he was sick of hearing about “stinking blacks”. I had a girl in Year 7 tell me she couldn’t read “Tales of the Greek Heroes” because “mum said it was too hard”.

      But I think the greatest classics of idiots trying to run schools were the “Monkey Case” in the USA over evolution and that US bible-belt State, either Oklahoma or Kansas or elsewhere in the mid-west, who decided that the ratio of “pi” to be taught was 3:1 because that is the ratio given in the Bible at Kings and Chronicles! Then there was Texas Governor in the 1920’s, Ma Ferguson, who when asked to approve the supply of Bibles in Spanish for Spanish speaking students famously declared, “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for them.”

      On the question of performance based pay; who is going to decide who gets it and who doesn’t? There is no one-size-fits-all yardstick. Is it going to be bureaucrats from head office; maybe the Principal; maybe the P & C; maybe peer review (but teachers work alone in the classroom). The whole thing just degenerates into a populairty contest.

      There are ways to fix it, but it is expensive and would upset too many established power bases.

    • LC says:

      10:02am | 28/11/12

      Yet despite their very comfortable salaries, pension plans and perks, most of our politicians are amongst the most incompetent and undesirable bunch of clowns in a position of power in the world.

      Teaching isn’t a profession one goes into for money, it’s a profession one goes into for the love of the job. If you want a profession for money, go into banking or mining. Just how much money do you think already overburdened state budgets can afford anyway?

    • Kika says:

      10:03am | 28/11/12

      I can’t understand what their concern is other than being afraid of what their performance results would be. We all are paid according to our performances. Why are teachers exempt from this?

      There’s nothing better than having a fabulous teacher. A good teacher will inspire their students to get more out of their education. Teachers are under valued and have been here for such a long time. You have a look at Asian attitudes to teachers - they are revered! And you wonder why their children do better than ours?

      The problem lies with teachers earning an average wage vs the importance of their role in shaping society. We should:-
      1) Increase the wages for teachers to a level which would entice top performers at school to study education
      2) Increase the entry level requirements to ensure those who will teach our children can do more than just spell, count and babysit (I know teachers who can’t spell)

      Then add performance incentives on top of their base wage such as bonuses and pay rises.

      If we continue to expect teachers to just be baby-sitters that is all they will do.

    • Bob says:

      10:30am | 28/11/12

      Agree, but add give them real power. Not just the power to be blamed. If a parent doesn’t care about the performance of its child, then there’s not much that can be done.

    • James1 says:

      11:24am | 28/11/12

      To my mind, the issue is the question of how do you effectively judge performance for teachers?  In as subjective an area as education, where the aptitude and home environment of the student has a far greater influence on outcomes than do teachers, it seems fraught with difficulty judging performance for teachers based on the performance of students.  It seems impossible to come up with a single set of measures by which to judge teacher performance that would apply equally in all contexts.

      I’m open to suggestions, though.

    • Kika says:

      01:10pm | 28/11/12

      I agree Bob. I can’t believe how soft teachers have to be these days. My friend told me his wife isn’t allowed to use red pen marking papers anymore! What the?

      @James1 - I don’t know, but there would have to be a way. We all have performance reviews and surely they have some sort of system already to see how they and their classes are tracking. You can’t possibly have one class lagging behind the other classes in terms of achievement without having a look at the teacher for eg.?

    • Bob says:

      01:31pm | 28/11/12

      Kika: Amen, it gets better - My wife is a Chinese maths teacher. We moved to Cambridge, UK about a year ago (and expected this area to have a somewhat pro-education culture). The amount of complaints parents gave about expecting their little darlings to actually study was obscene.

      An (explicitly optional)offer of extra tuition during lunch or after school was taken as detention for not doing homework - Which was worth complaining about. Parents complaining about having problems with their children’s homework (despite that they wouldn’t have studied it in decades) therefore it’s too difficult. One parent who stated that her darling had done a whole half an hour’s homework, and she thought that was enough. She wasn’t allowed to mark student’s homework wrong, only right. Low pay, and so on and so forth.

      We learnt many lessons about what a good parent doesn’t do. The above was from a two week period.

    • P. Wlaker says:

      03:57pm | 28/11/12

      For once (a few more too) I agree with you Kika.  Too many are kids are leaving school and returning to the school playground as their first jobs.  It’s a ho-hum attitude; they see their dumb mentors and can see that they don’t have to achieve much to grab the money.

    • loxy says:

      11:39am | 28/11/12

      Fully support performance payment for teachers; however it’s critical they get the measurement right. I believe that parents should be a significant part of this measurement. After all, as parents our taxpayer dollars is what’s paying the teachers’ salaries. If they do a great job we should be able to have a say in their performance reward and vice versa if they are a lousy teacher.

      Only other thing I would add is that salary should automatically be higher for the teachers who are prepared to work in the tough areas/schools. My kids go to a state school in an affluent area that always performs well in the NAPLANS. You can not honestly compare the job of a teacher at my kid’s school to a teacher that takes a job at a school in a low socioeconomic area somewhere like Mt Isa. One job is most definitely tougher than the other and should be remunerated accordingly.

    • Jess says:

      11:41am | 28/11/12

      I would like to point out that getting a high score in the university admission system does not neccessarily make a good teacher. Just because you know a subject doesn’t mean you could teach it. Teaching is so much more than academic smarts.

    • Swamp Thing says:

      12:07pm | 28/11/12

      Do we need schools anymore? Do the little bastards even turn up?
      They seem to have a lot of holidays.
      Surely those ‘smart’ phones they all worship can teach ‘em all they need to know. Chuck in master chef, dancing with the stars & the ability to wear ‘hi-viz’ & lean on a shovel - job done, skills for modern Australia!
      Oh bring on the next extinction level event please - we need that, rather than schools.

    • lostinperth says:

      12:46pm | 28/11/12

      Why do we persist with the “teachers are poorly paid” myth.

      Most teachers get in the $70 to $85K pay range after a couple of years experience for working less then 40 weeks a year. You pro rata that into a 48 weeks work year and they are on an equivalent salary of mid 80’s to over $100K.

      The comparison to lawyers, doctors, accountants is also misleading. All of these professions require extra study to become qualified and all are accountable for their work. A doctor, lawyer or accountant stuffs up and the ramifications range from large lawsuits, large monetary losses to death or serious harm. Teachers are not accountable beyond a poor work performance report. You can’t sue your teacher because they were poor at what they do even if the consequences of poor teaching are very serious.

      The real problem - the good teachers get paid the same as the poor ones so the good teachers get frustrated and leave. We need a system where good teachers get paid more and poor teachers get less.


      Pay peanuts and you get monkeys? - monkeys eat cashews as well.

    • Achmed says:

      02:25pm | 28/11/12

      Because it is not a myth.  Teachers get 4 weeks a year annual leave.  In simple terms the time they get “off” during school holidays is effectively paid for from their salary like salary sacrificing.  The school “holidays” are paid for by the teachers, these “holidays” were originally unpaid leave.  Their salary is avaeraged over the year.
      And I know plenty of teachers who spend those so-called holidays doing career development/training or attending school camps…

    • Reg Whiteman says:

      03:14pm | 28/11/12

      You obviously know nothing about teaching. When you say “working for less than 40 weeks a year” just shows you’ve never given it any thought at all. When do you think all the marking, programs, lesson plans, assessment criteria and all the stuff parents and students never see gets done?

      I left teaching and got a 40-hour a week job so that I could reduce my hours and actually have lunch hour and a weekend and holidays that didn’t co-incide with school holidays and “peak time” charges. I taught for 12 years and there was hardly a weekend I didn’t take away a tennis, cricket, netball or football team - and there was no such thing as overtime or penalty rates. In the mid term breaks I spent half the time at school arranging books and duplicating study units and the rest at home writing up lesson plans or attending faculty meetings.

      It’s not nearly as easy as people think - or, more accuately, don’t think. Less than 40 weeks a year and 8:30 - 3:30, pffft.

    • lea says:

      05:58pm | 28/11/12

      I love how teachers like to imply they are the only ones taking work home with them, and doing extra after hours activities.

      It is also worth noting that 80% of the population earn less than $80 000 a year. So crying that teachers are poorly paid at the rate they earn is not only laughable, but offensive to those who work just as hard in just as important vocations for much, much less.

    • Kassandra says:

      12:53pm | 28/11/12

      Why do people become teachers?

      Some do it as a job, to receive a wage, for some it is a career where advancement is their main motivation. For others it is a calling. A person with a calling does not work primarily for ?nancial gain or career advancement, but instead for the ful?lment that doing the work brings to the individual.

      It seems likely that some occupations are more likely than others to attract people who see it as a calling, teaching being one of these. Having a performance-based pay system will work well to attract monkeys to teaching who wish to earn peanuts. It won’t work so well for those who see teaching as a career, because while not being averse to extra peanuts, earning increased amounts of them is not their main motivation. It will have no effect on those who see teaching as a calling, because earning extra peanuts to them is irrelevant to their performance, and it is arguably this group that we most want to attract and retain in teaching.

      I don’t think anyone would argue against a decent rate of pay for teachers but there are probably better ways to reward the best teachers than a “performance-based” payment system. Performance pay is not the norm in other professions. For example, doctors are paid either a fixed rate depending on seniority regardless of “performance” in the public sector or if they work in the private sector they are paid on a fee for service system, essentially paid by the number of hours spent treating patients or by the number of procedures carried out regardless of their quality or outcome.

    • Black Dynamite says:

      03:21pm | 28/11/12

      Some do it for the fact they only have to work 3/4 of the year including a 6 week break over the best part of the year.

      Black Dynamite

    • Sid Spart says:

      03:33pm | 28/11/12

      By what metric would you use to measure?
      Any one who went to school will tell you that their best teachers would probably not match up to the some university professors opinion of a good teacher.
      Careful what you wish for you could get teachers mindlessly teaching “to the test” to get a pay rise,

      This article is just knee jerk fluff in response to some interest groups press release
      Popcorn Journalism at its best

    • Slightly salty Popcorn says:

      06:10pm | 28/11/12

      Since you’re dealing out report cards Sid, Rental income of $440 per week would mean a monthly income of $1907 here’s yours: E+, based on the number of grammatical errors in your comment.  Maybe you would have benefited from an education system where the ‘best teachers” were rewarded for teaching you stuff beyond ‘rote learning’. The piece is trying to say that a singular view of performance or a remuneration structure based simply on years of service is flawed. NAPLAN is but one of range of possible measures.

    • P. Walker says:

      03:50pm | 28/11/12

      NAPLAN is possibly the only legacy that Gillard will leave.  I see no reason to oppose this, one only has to read the papers and watch television to see how our teachers have failed in the teaching of English.  Just last night, on The Project, a caption flashed up about infertility, and the solution was “PRACTISE MORE”.  I’ve no idea what the qualifications of that dill has to be, but hey…talk about fools teaching the world.  TV and the media also have roles in education, in that what is put out there for consumption will be taken up by the community.  Many people look to journalism for some validation of their own abilities.  Discounting bloggers and people like us, although we should try harder.
      Teachers are at the forefront, and we expect them to teach well, unfortunately the ones that can’t work, teach!  The standards are falling deeper, so we have the illiterate teaching illiteracy.  I’m all for performance paid teachers and weeding out the dopes on the gravy train.  The dopes need to apply to the local play school.

    • stephen says:

      05:23pm | 28/11/12

      NAPLAN checks up on the kids because the curriculum is crook and a lot of teachers are too, and the education authorities do not have an answer to the other problems of learning.
      There are too many competing theories, and the government is scared of another ‘pink batts’.
      But it is wrong to test children for their rote knowledge, insisting that such a test is a signifier of problems at school, whether those problems are to do with learning difficulties, subject matter, or poor teaching.
      Students differ as to their interest and aptitude; some will always be behind in maths and reading.
      Some students, however, will be better at other subjects - those which are not tested and which are not dependant on good spelling or subtracting - so the test, really, states the obvious : that learning skills vary from student to student, that some students will be better than others - considerations that, unfortunately, imply that a consistent test is the same as consistent data.

      And there is no sane reason why children in this country should be tested, if only to see how they come up against their overseas counterparts ; we are a distinct people - as each peoples are, wherever they are - and we should emphasize learning as a fun though energetic experience, and ignore the competitive spirit, except on the sportsfield.

 

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